As a writer, you work alone.
But you are not the only one.
Realising that I was not the only writer out there may sound like a childish revelation. Of course there were always other writers – you read enough books, don’t you?
Yet it wasn’t until I arrived at university that the reality of the late nights, the toils of deadlines and word counts, the well-meaning advice of my published lecturers, the celebrations of those who had already made it, hit my anxiety with full force.
Somewhere over the ocean, an author pens the final pages of their novel; over tomorrow’s sunrise, a writer debuts their short story collection. Faceless writers span the globe, their voices filtering through literary magazines and online publications. Writers who knew the bane of writer’s block, the long nights, the self-imposed deadlines, and yet pushed through to get their story into readers’ hands. My hands.
On some nights, the acknowledgement of so many writers, working so hard for what they love, buries me. I can’t help feeling baffled by the talent of so many dedicated people, everywhere I look.
I’m so proud of them. I celebrate the success of others with an earnest cheer, but still feel a pressure, like a knife, dig into my gut.
Why aren’t I like these people?
Why haven’t I done anything yet?
On the bad days, I spend hours chasing the shadows of writers. I force myself to imitate them – to follow their advice online, to study their schedules, to connect and be relevant to people who probably won’t think twice about me. I long to change my skin into their darkness, untouchable, immaculate, to flick my wrist and slide from submission to submission, success to success, with the ease of those I see around me.
But I can’t.
Because I know it’s not as easy as that. The success stories that overwhelm me are nothing compared to the untold failures, to the envy those writers must’ve had for those ahead of them, to the nights they must’ve spent lying awake, depending on things far out of their control.
I can only be me. How I write, when I write, if I choose to write at all – these are my decisions. The successes of the few do not affect them. Not unless I want them to.
There will be someone with more stories published. More reviews. More praise. More attention.
I am not the only writer out there.
But I’m the only one I’ve got.